Photographs and memories: Anne and Margot Frank on holiday before the family had to hide out in Holland, where Anne is shown writing at her desk, in photos from an exhibit at Onondaga Community College.
“This year’s Arts Across Campus theme is ‘Arts, History and Memory,’ so we thought this exhibit would be a good supplement to reinforce that theme,” said Russell Corbin, assistant director of events management at OCC. “We thought we could bridge into the community at large, as well as to our students, because to us this is more than an exhibit; we are trying to build awareness that situations like the Holocaust still take place. People might have thought the Holocaust was the end-all and be-all, but inhumanities are still going on throughout the world, in some fashion.”
Otto Frank, the only Annex resident who survived the Holocaust, began toying with a Leica camera when Margot was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1926. At the time, he was shooting family photos as just that—everyday occurrences. But like his daughter’s famous Diary of a Young Girl, little did Frank know that his burgeoning photojournalism would develop into something more important than mere snapshots. Indeed, many of the black-and-white photos have never before been seen by the public. They were salvaged along with Anne’s diary following the family’s arrest.
The traveling exhibit is on loan from the Anne Frank Center, USA. “Everything was handled via the Anne Frank Center,” Corbin added. “They have some requirements, mostly having to do with docent training, so we made sure to follow whatever parameters they have.”
Take your time perusing the photos; the period details are priceless. In two funny shots showing Margot Frank under a sunlamp, the shelves behind her hold now-antique toys and knickknacks. If you have read Anne’s diary, you will remember that she never felt especially close to her sister. But in these photos you see a different dynamic: Margot spooning a liquid (presumably medication) into toddler Anne’s mouth; Margot applying baby powder to Anne (born Anneleis Marie) in 1931; the two of them with a series of friends and cousins.
The photos show no hint of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, where the family fled to in 1933 after Frank secured a job transfer. According to exhibit notes, that is the way Otto and Edith Frank wanted it: to give their girls as “normal” a childhood as possible, considering their last years were spent hiding out from Storm Troopers.
According to exhibit curator Victor Levie, Otto Frank’s photos reveal “an impeccable eye for detail and that sense of self-consciousness created by the documentation of moments of importance. He could not have predicted how important those carefree moments of his daughters’ lives would become.”
See for yourself, through March 13 at the Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center at OCC. Gallery hours are Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit is free. While after their capture Anne and Margot Frank were not executed outright at Bergen-Belsen, they died of typhoid as a result of deplorable hygienic conditions there. For more information on the exhibit, call 498-2787.